Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

Smoked paprika and chipotle add vibrant flavor to a piquant, brick red broth studded with chunks of creamy sweet potato and tender lentils for an ultra-nourishing vegetarian soup topped with all the usual tortilla soup fixings

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

There’s been a ton of baking going on in the bojon kitchen lately, which is why I’m extra-excited to share (and eat!) this soup today. It’s full of protein-rich lentils and tender bites of sweet potato, all hanging out in a brick-red broth laced with chipotle, cumin, smoked paprika, and lime. It’s one of those dishes that feels rich and nourishing, but light and clean all at once. It’s a perfect antidote to these cool fall days, and I’m planning to make it during the depths of winter when I’m craving bright colors and flavors.

Speaking of cravings, I have a handful of book events around the Bay Area this winter – many of which will be full of treats from Alternative Baker – and I’d love to see you there! More detailed info and links here.

Alternative Baker Book Events

Another reason for my soup excitement? Because today is Cynthia’s (of Two Red Bowls) virtual babyshower hosted by Alana and Stephanie, and we’re all bringing bowls of yummy goodness to share (but only virtually – sad!) There’s pudding. There’s pot pie. There’s cobbler, cookies, and biscuits. There’s soup, soup, and more soup. It’s an orgy of comfort food, and right now, under a blanket, scarf, sweater, and cat, I couldn’t be more tempted by all of these cozy bowls. (Ok, it’s only 55ºF out in SF – I’m a wimp.)

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

I’ve been a devoted Two Red Bowls fan from the beginning, swooning over Cynthia’s one-of-a-kind recipes and images. She inspires me every day with her eye for light and texture – I just want to live in her photos forever. She’s one of the kindest souls around, too. I’m so happy for her, B2, and their new addition. Luke, aka B3, is going to be one well-loved (and well-fed) kiddo. Congratulations, #ThreeRedBowls!

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

In honor of the Three Red Bowls, I made bowls of red soup. I’m a big fan of sopa azteca, posole and brothy tortilla soups – any of those Latin American dishes with spicy, brick-red broth. But it’s nearly impossible to find good vegetarian versions out (the exception being the posole at Gracias Madre, which is delicious.) This soup is an easy way to get that fix.

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

The broth is spiced and tangy like sopa azteca, with plenty of umami smokiness from chipotle, smoked paprika, and toasted cumin. It’s quick to throw together, super satisfying, and it keeps brilliantly for several days, becoming more and more tasty in the fridge. I concocted it last spring when, craving the chickpea tortilla soup in The Love and Lemons Cookbook but trying to make a dent in a jar of lentils I had leftover from an epic legume shoot for The New York Times with Sarah, I found this recipe. I mashed the two together, and it was love at first bite. A friend came by for a bowl, and though I swore up and down it was vegetarian, she didn’t believe me – she kept insisting I’d used meat in the broth from all those earthy flavors.

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

Top a bowl with a squeeze of lime juice to add a tangy counterpoint to the tomatoey broth, some crunchy tortilla strips, a handful of cilantro, a crumble of salty cotija cheese, and you have yourself a meal in a bowl.

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

Scope out the other bowl-licious offerings down below. Thanks for reading!

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}
Yields: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
Soup:
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons toasted cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (more or less depending on saltiness of vegetable stock)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) tomato paste
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced
  • 2 medium-sized jewel or garnet sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a large dice
  • 1 cup (200 g) French green lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups (1 liter) vegetable stock
  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle puree (more if you like; or 1-2 chipotles in adobo, seeded and chopped)
  • 14 ounces (415 ml) canned diced tomatoes
Garnish:
  • 4-6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, halved and cut into strips
  • 2-4 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 4 ounces cotija or queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1-2 limes, cut into wedges
  • avocado chunks (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large, heavy soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, and salt, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Work in the tomato paste, then add the carrots, lentils, stock, water, chipotle, and tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook, partially covered, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender but still holding a shape, 30-40 minutes. Taste, adding more salt or chipotle if you like.
  2. To make the tortilla strips, heat a thin layer of oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add enough tortilla strips to fit in a single layer, and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until golden and crisp, 2-3 minutes. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips and oil.
  3. Serve bowls of soup topped with a good squeeze of lime, a nest of tortilla strips, and a bit of cilantro and cotija (and avocado and sour cream, if you like). The soup keeps well, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}

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13 thoughts on “Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup {gluten-free, vegan}”

  1. Love this. I’m definitely going to try this weekend. Do you have a recommendation for a good purchased vegetable stock? I’ve not found one I much care for yet. Many thanks.

  2. Beautiful photos, a great recipe. And I appreciate your citing other blogs. Lots of people are so competitive, they wouldn’t do that. And I’m happy you’re getting all these opportunities to display your beautiful book. I remember when we used to go to Anthropologie in Santa Monica Place. Did you ever think that some day you’d be showing your book there?

  3. an orgy of comfort food sounds right just about now :)
    i’ll take a bowl with extra extra crispy tortilla chips and lime please!

    thanks for joining alanna!

  4. Would you happen to have a suggestion for swapping ground chipotle for the puree? I have yet to find a good GF canned or jarred chipotle in my area, but plenty of ground that I’ve been able to verify. (My celiac is ultra-sensitive, so I have to be super-careful, sadly!) Also–I just came back from SF Saturday, and I am so sad to see that I missed your Ferry Building signing by a week! :( Would have loved to meet you and tell you in person how much I love your book.

    1. Oh, yikes, I didn’t realize about canned chipotle! I’ll put a note up top. Off the top of my head, I would think that starting with 1/2 teaspoon of dried, ground chipotle would be a good starting point. Please let me know if you give it a try! And aw, I would have loved to meet you, too! Let me know the next time you’re in town.

      1. No worries! (Some people can tolerate more gluten than others. Sadly, I am not one of those people! :)) I will try this swap and I bet it will work. Cannot wait to try this recipe as it has gotten chilly here in NYC! And will totally check in next time I’m in SF. Your book is such a lifesaver! I’ve made a few recipes already–they are universally loved. :)

  5. Rich and nourishing yet light and clean sounds like the exact perfect thing for this time of year! I’m so in love with all the flavors here, and as usual, the photos are stunning. Thank you so much for such sweet words and for being a part of this, Alanna! It truly means the world!

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